Review: THE BLACK DRUM (Soulpepper/ DEAF CULTURE CENTRE)

Photo of Ensemble of Black Drum at Soulpepper

The World’s First Entirely Deaf Musical Is Now on Stage in Toronto

The Black Drum is a fairy tale that feels like Alice meets Dracula in a black & white wonderland – and sharing the music and love we carry in our hearts and bodies defeats the evil, at least for the moment. Sounds familiar? Maybe, but I can assure you that what you can see and feel at this show is truly extraordinary.

Produced by Soulpepper and the DEAF CULTURE CENTRE, a project of the Canadian Cultural Centre of the Deaf (CCSD), The Black Drum is a visually stunning spectacle and an emotionally-engaging performance. It is also the world’s first entirely Deaf musical.

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Review: Rite of Spring (Luminato with Yang Liping and Peacock Contemporary Dance Company)

Luminato presents dance by Chinese choreographer Yang Yiping for Toronto audiences

Rite of Spring, playing this weekend at the MacMillan Theatre as part of the Luminato Festival, is a sumptuous dance experience that is a feast for the senses. For her first Canadian presentation, dancer and choreographer Yang Liping brings this stunning piece set to the score of the same title by Igor Stravinsky to Toronto audiences.

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Review: Flowers for Kazuo Ohno (and Leonard Cohen)

Flowers for Kazuo Ohno (and Leonard Cohen) 03 The company of Flowers for Kazuo Ohno (and Leonard Cohen). Photo by Carlos Lema Posada.Luminato presents a dance tribute to Kazuo Ohno and Leonard Cohen in Toronto

Luminato presents Flowers for Kazuo Ohno (and Leonard Cohen) which not only pays tribute to Ohno and Cohen, but to all of humanity.

Columbian contemporary dance company Compañía del Cuerpo de Indias provides theatre-goers with an entrancing multicultural experience as it honours Japanese dancer Kazuo Ohno and Canada’s iconic artist Leonard Cohen. Seemingly an unlikely pair, Ohno and Cohen share a common admiration for Andalusian poet and playwright Federico García Lorca. Continue reading Review: Flowers for Kazuo Ohno (and Leonard Cohen)

Review: Hell’s Fury, The Hollywood Songbook (Luminato/Soundstreams/Pinkhouse Productions/Opera North UK)

Photo of Serouj Kradjian and Russell Braun in Hell's Fury The Hollywood Songbook by Trevor HaldenbyLuminato presents a song cycle, chronicling the life of composer Hanns Eisler, in Toronto

Hell’s Fury, The Hollywood Songbook, a co-production between Soundstreams, Pinkhouse Productions, Opera North UK and Luminato as part of the 2019 festival, is an intimate journey into the life of composer Hanns Eisler, written by the man himself.

Eisler, well-known for composing both Hollywood movie scores and the East German national anthem, was an Austrian born to a Jewish father and Lutheran mother. Moving to Berlin after serving in the first World War, he joined the Communist party and worked with Bertolt Brecht, scoring his plays and writing protest songs. Exiled by the rising tide of Nazism, which made his music illegal, he eventually emigrated to the United States, again working with Brecht, scoring 40 films, and receiving two Oscar nominations. He left the US after being blacklisted following interrogation by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Fleeing to East Berlin, he found himself celebrated and then silenced by a Communist party that did not hold to his principles.

The “Hollywood Songbook” song cycle was written by Eisler as a project largely intended for his ears only, so it feels slightly voyeuristic on our part to be watching these incredibly personal songs take shape on stage. Together, the songs present an interesting portrait of a man in interesting times, who was caused great pain from continually losing his roots, driven out by fascism, capitalism, and communism alike. They provide the material for a powerhouse performance by baritone Russell Braun. Unfortunately, they are also relentlessly lugubrious, essentially a 75-minute dirge with little variation.

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Review: The Cave (Luminato/Cave Collective)

Photo of Alex Samaras, Derek Kwan, Neema Bickersteth and Andrea Koziol by Delal HagosLuminato presents an apocalyptic animal cabaret, and metaphor for climate change, in Toronto

Conceived by Martha Ross (book), John Millard (music) and Tomson Highway (lyrics), and directed by Adam Paolozza, The Cave, presented by The Cave Collective as part of the 2019 Luminato Festival, envisions a sort of apocalyptic animal cabaret. A forest fire has spurred animals of all stripes and spots to seek haven in Bear’s cave; as the flames and smoke encroach ever closer, each animal tells its story, punctuated by Millard’s wry narration.

With an interesting mix of Christian theology (Adam and Eve being thoroughly dismissed from the Garden of Eden), Cree language, and an environmentalist message, the show presents numerous breathtaking song showpieces while not entirely coalescing. It’s a memorable conflagration, burning hot and brightly and then leaving in a billow of smoke.

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Playlistings for the Week of June 17th, 2019

Shows that Caught Our Eye in Toronto for the Week of June 17th, 2019.

MoT is here with fabulous suggestions for the theatre-goer in you! Spring has finally arrived, and so has Toronto’s busiest theatre season. Assistant editor, Katee has highlighted the shows she’s most excited about in red! Take a look at our list below and we guarantee you’ll find your next theatrical obsession! 

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Review: Obeah Opera (Luminato/Asah Productions)

Nicole Brooks with the company of Obeah Opera. Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh.Luminato brings a new version of the a cappella telling of the Salem Witch trials to Toronto

Obeah Opera tells the story of the Salem witch trials from the perspective of the first woman accused: a Caribbean slave named Tituba. Sung through entirely a cappella, the latest incarnation of this surprisingly vibrant and uplifting show is currently presented in Toronto as part of the Luminato Festival. Continue reading Review: Obeah Opera (Luminato/Asah Productions)

Review: Disney Presents The Lion King (Mirvish)

Mirvish presents the return of Disney’s hit Broadway musical The Lion King to Toronto

Making its triumphant return to Toronto at the Princess of Wales stage is the Disney musical The Lion King. Just like the animated film, the stage production directed by Julie Taymor features the same iconic songs by Elton John and Tim Rice along with all the characters we’ve all grown up with. This production is a true spectacle; a feast for the senses. Whether you grew up with the film or you’re introducing the stage show to a new generation, you will fall in love again the moment Rafiki sings “Nants Ingonyama”.

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Review: Forget Me Not (Luminato)

Luminato presents Canadian Ronnie Burkett’s allegory about love, loss, and longing in Toronto

This year’s Luminato Festival, under the curatorial direction of Naomi Campbell, has collected any number of sharp, new takes on concepts that seem perhaps done – from love to climate change – but even among these Forget Me Not stands out. A new work from Canadian magic-maker Ronnie Burkett, Forget Me Not is an allegory about love, loss, longing and language that spans… well, it spans many distances.

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